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Snowden offers to help Brazil investigate NSA spying when he's given asylum

Published time: December 17, 2013 08:56
Edited time: December 18, 2013 17:05
Members of the Youngs Together activist group pose with masks of Edward Snowden, former US National Security Agency contractor, during a public hearing of Brazil-based Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, at the Brazilian Senate's foreign relations committee, in Brasilia, on August 6, 2013. (AFP Photo/Moises Avila)

Members of the Youngs Together activist group pose with masks of Edward Snowden, former US National Security Agency contractor, during a public hearing of Brazil-based Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, at the Brazilian Senate's foreign relations committee, in Brasilia, on August 6, 2013. (AFP Photo/Moises Avila)

Whistleblower Edward Snowden has pledged to help Brazil investigate the NSA’s spying activities. Snowden said he had been asked by Brazilian senators for information on “suspected crimes against Brazilian citizens.”

In an open letter published by Brazilian paper Folha de S.Paulo, the former CIA contractor promised to aid Brazil in a probe into the National Security Agency’s spying program in the country. David Miranda, the partner of journalist Glen Greenwald, published the English original of the letter on his Facebook page.

“A lot of Brazilian senators have asked me to collaborate with their investigations into suspected crimes against Brazilian citizens,” said Snowden. The whistleblower added he has agreed to help, but the government of the US was working hard to stop him from doing so.

“The American government will continue to limit my ability to speak out until a country grants me permanent political asylum,” wrote Snowden, hinting that he may ask Brazil for asylum. The whistleblower is currently residing in the Russian Federation where he has been granted temporary asylum by the government.

He went on to congratulate the Brazilian government for leading the UN’s Commission on Human Rights in recognizing that “privacy does not stop where the internet starts and the mass surveillance of innocent citizens is a “violation of human rights.”

Brazil is currently probing reports released by Snowden that the NSA monitored the personal communications of President Dilma Rousseff and hacked into government ministries to gather information. Among the institutions targeted by NSA espionage were state oil giant Petrobras and the Ministry of Mines and Energy, contradicting claims by Washington that it did not engage in “economic espionage.”

Snowden expanded on the NSA’s spying capabilities in Brazil, claiming the espionage agency could track the cellphone of any individual in Brazil.

“When someone in Florianopolis visits a website, the NSA keeps a record of when this happened and what the person did on that site. If a mother in Porto Alegre rings her son to wish him luck for his university entrance exam, the NSA can retain a record of the call for up to 5 years.”

Concluding the letter, Snowden said that the NSA’s spy programs are not motivated by the fight against terrorism, but rather “economic espionage, social control and diplomatic manipulation.”

“When all of us band together against injustices and in defense of privacy and basic human rights, we can defend ourselves from even the most powerful systems,” said Snowden.

The Brazilian foreign ministry spokesman responding to Snowden’s letter said that Brasilia can only consider such a request once it receives an official application from Snowden, which so far has not been filed with the authorities. Snowden had previously petitioned for asylum in over two dozen states including Brazil, but no answer was given to his request.

Some members of Brazil's Congress are mounting a public campaign for Snowden.

In a Twitter message, chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, Senator Ricardo Ferraço, said "Brazil should not miss the opportunity to grant asylum to Edward Snowden, who was key to unraveling the US espionage system."

"The Brazilian government should grant him asylum and the US government must understand that the NSA violated rights protected in Brazil's Constitution," Senator Eduardo Suplicy said.

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